For the past fifty years, we’ve convinced our youth that a college education is the answer to finding a useful and rewarding career. While millions of college students study anthropology, English, history and other subjects not directed toward essential careers, interesting and vital blue-collar jobs go unfilled. At the same time baby-boomer tradesmen are retiring in droves, draining skills and experience from construction, transportation, and other technological fields. Trades people often get scant formal education and learn their trades, on the job, by trial and error, mentored by trades people who also learned by trial and error. The mistakes made, along with poor quality-control, costs customers and taxpayers billions each year.
Workforce for the Future
Educate guidance counselors and teachers on the merits of blue collar and green collar jobs —
The top plumbers, electricians and HVAC technicians are making up to $50 per hour or $100,000 per year. Without these trades we’d be living like medieval peasants. We must reverse the impression that these jobs are somehow unworthy for a good student. The trades offer plenty of intellectual stimulation, challenge, and fulfillment.
Improve blue collar education —
Blue collar education includes a continuation of math, science, and English from grammar school and middle school. We should target these basics towards a blue collar education for at least 25 percent of the student population. We need to redesign and strengthen middle-school and high-school vocational programs. We should also provide community college, vocational school, and internet training for technicians. Traveling, hands-on seminars on energy conservation, solar energy, biomass utilization are also important.
Create business models for green business —
Small building-services businesses are often seat-of-the-pants operations without viable business systems. Many people in the green workforce operate outside of traditional business models. They go without workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, or other benefits. We need federal help to establish green professions, and sustainable business models, to employ the green-building professionals. Elements of a business model include financing, business systems, accounting systems, insurance, safety policies, human resources, and customer education about the merits of green-building services.
Go to Saturn’s website to learn about our green-jobs courses.